‘Gratitude’ is one of those words we see everywhere nowadays in self-help books and even in planners which have sections for listing the things you’re grateful for. Yet people don’t realise how incredibly important the concept is. It’s become like white noise in the background, yet it has the potential to turn someone’s day around, and to completely change the way you see your own life.
Recently, I personally delivered a load of thankyou cards to the people and services who had contributed to my wedding in some way: the man who made our beautiful cake, the lovely ladies who styled my hair, the hotel staff who hosted us,the lady who did all the makeup, even the lady in the perfume department who helped me to choose the perfect scent.
And let me tell you, the radiant smiles on those people’s faces was worth a thousand times more than the glow from treating myself or buying something new.
People often say to me “But you paid for that, so it’s to be expected. You don’t have to go out of your way to thank them”, which I think is really sad.
After all, we all have a finite amount of time on Earth. Whenever somebody does something for you, they are giving up a fraction of their time on this planet.
Taking the time to personally thank someone who has done something for you, even if it’s mundane, like serving you on a checkout, is one of the kindest and most thoughtful practices you can adopt in your everyday life.
Expressing gratitude doesn’t even have to cost a lot of time and energy. A small, cheerful conversation, or a big smile and a thankyou, can go a long way to help someone who has had a rough day.
When we see someone in customer service frowning and sighing, it’s so easy to think, “Huh, what a miserable attitude, they shouldn’t even be serving!”. But we’re all human and sometimes all a person needs is some compassion and gratitude.
I’ve noticed that smiling at someone who looks fed up, complimenting them, or making a point of thanking them, can light up their eyes and turn the frown upside down! Positivity and kindness is light and uplifting, negativity is heavy and depressing.
But what about when the light has dimmed in our own lives and we’re the ones wearing the frown?
That’s when it can be a huge help to write a list of all the things you’re grateful for in your life.
For me, a list didn’t quite cut it, so I chose to write about each thing I had listed, and in no time at all I was feeling as light as air and supremely grateful for everything in my life. I listed having great friends, my family, my house, my job, and everything else I felt I was fortunate to have.
One thing I noticed by writing such a list, was that almost none of it was about the stuff I owned. Everything I needed for happiness was already there. You can do this exercise for loved ones who have upset you as well (depending on the situation, of course). List the things that you like about the person rather than the things that annoy you, and you’ll soon feel much lighter.
I understand that many of us struggle to think of things to be grateful for, especially if life is on a bit of a downer, so here are some things you might be grateful for that you might not even consider, and that others might not have. Please note, I realise that not everything on this list will apply to everybody, but I’m hoping that there will be something on there for everyone.
- Clean, plentiful food
- Clean water
- Good health
- A paying job
- A flushing toilet
- An education
There’s one more thing I would like to share with you that’s too obscure to list with the above, but I feel is well worth mentioning.
Years ago, I was in a bad place with my education, my career and my health. My college placement as an ICT technician was going so terribly that my tutor paid a visit to the place and I almost got finished. Thankfully, my mother in law who worked there took me under her wing as a teaching assistant. And as a teaching assistant I thrived.
I loved the kids, I loved the teachers, and I loved that I was (and still am) helping to make kids lives in the classroom more bearable.
I’d never considered being a teaching assistant before, and had spent the past few years working in retail and studying the wrong thing, which for me was ICT. To discover something I loved, I had to follow what seemed like the wrong path. For that , I am now grateful. I was even able to use the skills I had learned by supporting in ICT classes.
So, even when everything seems to be going wrong, look for the hidden meaning. And when it’s all over, you might even find something to be grateful for.
Gratitude will lighten your heart. Gratitude will brighten the world.
Practice gratitude today.